The Kootenays and Adventures into Idaho/Washington

So, a brief update here. I’ve recently relocated up to Creston, BC to begin my career as a nurse. Yippee! I chose the Kootenays partly because, well, they offered me a job here, but also because of the beauty of the area. There are mountains GALORE, lots of lakes, cute little towns, farming/orchards providing bountiful local products to enjoy year-round, and Creston especially, is quite proximal to the US. From my house to the border with Idaho it’s about 5-10 mins drive and I’m told that if you live here long enough, they start to know you by name. 

Creston is located in a valley at the bottom of Kootenay Lake, across which a ferry runs over to Nelson. It is about 1.5 hrs between Trail and Cranbrook on either side and 6hrs to Calgary. I’m told it’s rather temperate, with temperatures similar to the Okanagan, less rain than Vancouver, and less snow than most of the province outside the lower mainland. Thus far, I can recommend the following:

1. Real Food Cafe (http://www.realfoodcafe.ca/): they not only have excellent coffee with free refills, but they also source locally produced and organic foods as much as possible. Prices are quite reasonable and portions satisfying. Must try!

2. Chatka – Polish food. A small, family run restaurant, just out of town on the way to Cranbrook on Hwy 3, they have delicious fried things like potato pancakes, perogies, cabbage rolls, and other meaty dishes, which I did not partake in (but was told were good!). Again, reasonable prices, very friendly staff, and good sized meals. Your arteries may disagree with your choices, but your tastebuds certainly won’t!

3. Creative Fix – just up the street from the bakery and post office, b

I’ve also tried out Blackbear Books (decent coffee), A Break in Time (had a pretty good London fog, although their wifi wasn’t working so wasn’t too impressed with that!), Buffalo Trails (good coffee and treats), and Renees Roadhouse Diner (diner foods at good prices, open EARLY). I plan to try the Retro Cafe and Kootenay Thai, both reputed to be quite good.

Creston also has an abundance of AWESOME thrift shops – I have furnished a large portion of my house with items from these places! Gleaners and the thrift shop in the church beside the post office are without a doubt the cheapest. I am also partial to the Second Heaven shop, beside the Integra Tire (on Pine St, I think it is). Lots of GREAT treasures to be had in this town, where upcycling is very much alive and well. Nothing a little TLC can’t make look like new, or at least a terrific antique piece! 

 

As far as exploring Washington and Idaho, I haven’t done too much other than (so ashamed) Wal-mart and Starbucks, but Sandpoint, Idaho is absolutely beautiful and there appear to be many beautiful state and national parks to explore. There are also A LOT of STUPID deer in this area! Like, literally hundreds, all apparently with a death wish…. Driving home from visiting my friend in Spokane, WA, at dusk last weekend, proved terrifying as the car just ahead of me smucked a deer (who pitifully flailed around trying to get up, talk about traumatic), and then I nearly crafted myself a new deer decoration for the front of ol Elva. Ick. So yeah, wondering why the person in front of you is not doing the speed limit at dusk? It’s because they know how many kamikaze deer there are in the area…

So yes, Spokane! I had a great visit there with my friend, Ki Eun, who I met in Korea about 3 years ago. She took me to Gonzaga, which was a cool experience, as it was an orientation of some kind for incoming frosh and their families (perhaps deciding on what uni to attend?), and it was kind of like the American college dream you see in movies – various clubs with booths set up, recruiting members, students playing soccer and other sports in the sun. Very all-American. For lunch we visited a Korean restaurant, Ha-Ha’s, which was FAB. Turns out the owner emigrated from Ulsan(!) about 30 years ago, and her mother still lives there in Beomseo, which is the neighbourhood just across the river from where I lived! So cool. We dined on kimchi chigae and soondubu chigae, as well as discovering a “secret” menu in rabbokki, which the lady made for us specially when we were telling her how much we missed eating it. YAY! I even got to practice my Korean a bit. 😀 After lunch, we checked out downtown and did some shopping. I discovered Athleta, which, and this is a very big statement, I may like EVEN MORE THAN LULULEMON. Yes, I said it. They are apparently owned by GAP, and have neat designs, which fit well, in great colours, at prices that are slightly cheaper than Lulu. What?!! Check it out. Thank me later. We ended the day with a lemon tart, macarons, and coffee at Cafe Madeleine, again, pretty tasty. 

Other than that, I’ve mainly been working, decorating my new nest, and training for a mini-tri coming up in June. I want to go hiking, but probably should make a few friends first so I’m not alone, gobbled by a bear, rabid deer, or herd of ticks…. Come visit me someone? Pretty please?

Til next time….

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Rediscovering BC

After traipsing around the globe so much, I am pretty excited to be back home in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. After all, a place with the logo super natural BC must be pretty darn great, right? 

Turns out that’s a rhetorical question. Of course it’s great! It’s fantastical! A place with temperate rainforest, desert-esque ranchlands, snow-capped peaks, arctic tundra, and great plains. There is truly something for everyone in B.C. 

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On board the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, just leaving H.B.

So, how have I been reacquainting myself with the homeland? Well, apparently I am now addicted to road trips, so last week when I had the chance to do a wee trip through the Okanagan Valley, I was all over it. I took the Hope-Princeton Hwy up, which I think is a much prettier and way more fun to drive version of the Coquihalla. It is also a lot better than the Coq in terms of snow, except through Manning Park area. I visited Oliver, Penticton, Kelowna, and Kamloops, and drove through a number of the small towns in between. The Okanagan Valley is famous for its arid climate and vast amount of vineyards and very swimmable lakes. This is a great place to vacation in winter or summer, with skiing/snowshoeing popular in the winter and camping, hiking, houseboating, drinking of wine, and lake activities being popular in the summer. Since I was last there, probably 4-5 years ago, the Okanagan has really developed, with many varieties of foods, unique boutiques, lots of yoga options, and so forth. I got some delicious cupcakes at CupCasions in Kelowna for a Valentine’s treat for me, the friend I was staying with, and her boyfriend and friend.

FUNNY STORY: My friend was at work all day and I was out visiting with another friend from university who i hadn’t seen in ages. We ended up at the liquor store, of course, where the lovely cashiers were giving out roses for Valentines. I thought it would be a nice treat to get some mini cupcakes to enjoy after our kickboxing class, so I stopped and picked up 6 of those as well. I dropped the cupcakes, all done up in a white box with a ribbon, and the rose, which I installed in a vase, off at my friend’s house before meeting her at kickboxing. I hadn’t mentioned getting them to her and she arrived home before I did after class. When I walked in, I asked – did you find them?! And she said, oh! you must’ve met Sean! (her boyfriend, thinking he’d dropped the goodies off as a surprise). I said no, I hadn’t, and explained the story behind the treats. She started laughing her head off and said she had texted him a picture of the cupcakes and rose and said thank you. He of course, responded ??????? and called a minute later. Boy totally got showed up on Valentines Day! 😉

Anywho, Kamloops was also lovely. We walked by the river, seeing just a ton of bald eagles, some quite close. Very cool! I was introduced to a delicious red, and I’m not usually a red fan, called Apothic. This is a California wine, and this particular vintage was 2012. Very delicious indeed! It is always nice to catch up with wonderful old friends, and I am truly lucky in being able to count Collin and Dar as two such people. Looking forward to some great hiking trips this summer!

Seeing as the Coq was getting another snowstorm, I decided to go down through the Fraser Canyon via Cache Creek to get home. Great choice! Not only was I treated to beautiful views, but the road was completely bare. Yay!

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Good morning Vancouver!